The Big Six Goes Self-Publishing

Via the New York Times:

Big publishers have been tentative about entering the market, partly for fear of tarnishing their brand by allowing content they have not reviewed to be published under their name.

But Simon & Schuster has gotten around that problem by teaming up with Author Solutions Inc., a company based in Bloomington, Ind., that already has a robust self-publishing business. Author Solutions also has partnerships with several smaller and niche publishers including Harlequin, which specializes in romance books, and Thomas Nelson, which focuses on Christian books.

The two companies have created a separate house called Archway Publishing, which will be available for authors looking to publish fiction, nonfiction, business or children’s books.

Why is it always Author Solutions – the company that charges too much money for services that can be achieved independently. This appears to be no different.

While the venture promises to access the expertise of a major publishing house, it will be completely operated and staffed by Author Solutions.

In other words it’s Author Solutions with a different name.

Authors can buy packages ranging from $1,599, for the least expensive children’s package, to $24,999, for the most expensive business book package.

In return, authors will get a range of services, like having their books included in Edelweiss – an industry online catalog available to major retailers and wholesalers among others – or having access to a speaker’s bureau that will help find speaking opportunities. They might also benefit from a video production department that creates and distributes book trailers.

None of that seems particularly worth the price. When joint ventures like this first cropped up, people freaked out (see: Harlequin), with people accusing publishers of ripping off writers. Now, it just seems par for the course. Self-publishing is part of the landscape and people aren’t afraid of it in the same way. Unfortunately, writers might still get ripped off.

To be fair, the jury’s still out if this will offer writers something beyond publishing with iUniverse or Author House – such as a better chance getting picked up by Simon & Schuster itself, as they claim. Though that could very well be a marketing gimick. Given the access to the speaker’s bureau, this might primarily be an option for non-fiction writers.

See: Archway Publishing

Oddly, there’s also a publishing and marketing company, Archway, which does business with Pearson, who owns Author Solutions.